Peru’s parliament voted once again on Wednesday against bringing forward the 2024 elections to December 2023.
President Dina Boluarte and right-wing parties want the elections held earlier in the hope of ending protests that began with the impeachment of the country's left-leaning president two months ago and have continued since then, causing shortages of food, fuel and other commodities, and affecting the production of major exports such as copper.
At Wednesday's vote in parliament, 68 legislators came out against early elections, 54 voted in favour and 2 cast blank ballots. Parliament had previously given the green light to advance elections from 2026 to 2024 but voted on Saturday against a proposal by Boluarte to have the polls held even earlier.
Castillo was very popular among poor indigenous people from southern Peru, where he himself is from. He has been in jail since his attempt to dissolve parliament and rule by decree, in a bid to avoid impeachment proceedings. After he was deposed, his vice president, Boluarte, became his successor, in line with Peruvian law.
Since then, the South American country has been facing stiff protests, in which 48 people have been killed so far, including a police officer.
Unrest hampers copper production
The protesters are demanding Boluarte’s departure, new elections and the former president’s release. They have set up dozens of road blockades in different regions of the country, and this has led to shortages of basic goods and fuel in addition to making access to health care difficult in several areas.
The unrest has also taken a toll on the production of copper, of which Peru is the world's second-largest producer after Chile.
On Wednesday, Peru’s Las Bambas copper mine suspended operations due to the blockades and unrest. The mine, located at an altitude of 4,000 metres, accounts for about 15% of Peru’s copper production and about 2% of global production.
Production has ceased and the plant is in a maintenance phase, the Chinese company MMG, which operates the mine, reported. “Conditions have not changed, the blockades continue, no supplies are coming in,” it said.
MMG had previously warned that it would have to shut down production if the roadblocks did not disappear.